The 10 Busiest Airports in the World

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Traveler at an airport
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In a dream world, all airports would be compact, easy to navigate and packed with inexpensive restaurants and comfortable lounges that are free to use. And they’d never, ever be busy, with nonexistent security and ticket lines. Sadly, that’s not the world we live in. Airports today are often hopping, and some more so than others.

A recent report from the Airports Council International identified the airports that saw the most passengers in 2022. Here’s something that is unlikely to surprise American travelers: Half of the top 10 — and all of the top four — are in the U.S.

Here’s a look at the busiest airports in the world.

10. Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG)

Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris, France
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Location: Paris, France

Total number of passengers at this airport in 2022: 57.5 million

Change in the number of passengers compared with 2021: 119.4% increase

Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport once again made the top 10 in 2022 after falling from No. 9 in 2019 to No. 31 in 2021. It also has an intriguing history. For 18 years, Iranian refugee Mehran Karimi Nasseri lived in the airport’s Terminal 1 after he fled Iran and found himself in a sort of international limbo. Tom Hanks played a similar character in the 2004 movie “The Terminal.”

9. Indira Gandhi International Airport (DEL)

Indira Gandhi International Airport in India
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Location: Delhi, India

Total number of passengers at this airport in 2022: 59.5 million

Change in the number of passengers compared with 2021: 60.2% increase

Delhi’s airport has been on a steady climb in these rankings. It was No. 9 in 2022 but No. 13 in 2021 and No. 17 in 2019.

8. Heathrow Airport (LHR)

London Heathrow Airport
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Location: London, England

Total number of passengers at this airport in 2022: 61.6 million

Change in the number of passengers compared with 2021: 217.7% increase

London Heathrow came in at No. 8, up from No. 54 in 2021, the biggest recorded jump by any airport in the top 10. That’s likely due to the pandemic keeping travelers within their own borders until March 2022. Heathrow also served the second-largest number of international passengers so it makes sense that borders reopening would affect it more than American airports, which can lean heavily on domestic passengers.

7. Istanbul Airport (IST)

Istanbul Airport in Turkey
Nate Hovee / Shutterstock.com

Location: Istanbul, Turkey

Total number of passengers at this airport in 2022: 64.3 million

Change in the number of passengers compared with 2021: 73.8% increase

Turkey’s Istanbul Airport may be the biggest airport in the world, Reader’s Digest reports, taking up 818 million square feet of land. It opened in 2019 and already seems to be pleasing travelers. It recently made the list of the world’s most enjoyable airports, as determined by Airports Council International and travel technology company Amadeus.

6. Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)

Los Angeles International Airport
Phillip B. Espinasse / Shutterstock.com

Location: Los Angeles, United States

Total number of passengers at this airport in 2022: 65.9 million

Change in the number of passengers compared with 2021: 37.3% increase

Whether you’re heading for Hollywood, Beverly Hills or the sun and sand of Malibu, Los Angeles International Airport might provide your first glimpse of the City of Angels. LAX also came in at No. 9 on Airports Council International’s list of airports with the highest volume of cargo: loading and unloading 2.5 million metric tons of freight and mail in 2022.

5. Dubai International Airport (DXB)

Dubai International Airport
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Location: Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Total number of passengers at this airport in 2022: 66.1 million

Change in the number of passengers compared with 2021: 127% increase

Dubai International in the U.A.E. is the busiest non-U.S. airport. It also serves the most international passengers of any airport on the list.

4. Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD)

Chicago O'Hare International Airport
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Location: Chicago, United States

Total number of passengers at this airport in 2022: 68.3 million

Change in the number of passengers compared with 2021: 26.5% increase

Chicago’s a multi-airport city, but it’s O’Hare International that takes the No. 4 spot for the second-straight year, moving up from No. 6 in 2019. It’s named for Edward O’Hare, a celebrated naval aviator who received the Medal of Honor in World War II.

3. Denver International Airport (DEN)

TSA security checkpoint lines
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Location: Denver, United States

Total number of passengers at this airport in 2022: 69.3 million

Change in the number of passengers compared with 2021: 17.8% increase

Denver International Airport held on to its No. 3 position in the latest list of busiest airports in the world. It’s also one of the most-talked-about airports for reasons having nothing to do with its traffic. Since the airport opened in 1995 — 16 months behind schedule and $2 billion over budget — it’s become a magnet for conspiracy theories. The New York Times recently reported on a variety of urban legends surrounding the Denver airport, with some even spreading rumors about the 32-foot-tall statue of a blue horse with glowing eyes that stands outside the airport.

2. Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW)

Rental car area in Dallas Fort Worth International Airport, Texas
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Location: Dallas-Fort Worth metro, United States

Total number of passengers at this airport in 2022: 73.4 million

Change in the number of passengers compared with 2021: 17.5% increase

Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, located midway between the two major Texas cities, came in second in the 2021 list too –but only placed at No. 10 in 2019’s pre-pandemic list. DFW is a hub for the popular American Airlines and serves 192 domestic destinations. But its international traffic is now at 12% and rising, Airport World reports.

1. Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL)

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport
ESB Professional / Shutterstock.com

Location: Atlanta, United States

Total number of passengers at this airport in 2022: 93.7 million

Change in the number of passengers compared with 2021: 23.8% increase

Atlanta’s airport held on to the No. 1 spot again in 2022, after claiming that title in 2021 and 2019 (with no list in the pandemic year of 2020). Not only is it busy, but it’s about to get bigger. A six-year, $1.4 billion expansion of its Concourse D is scheduled to begin in September 2023.

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